A new joint operations command which was formed in Kirkuk without the involvement of the Kurdish Peshmerga, includes the federal police, the Hashd al-Shaabi, counterterrorism forces and army units. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region- Iraqi military authorities have formed a Joint Operations Command from different army units to operate in Kirkuk, without the involvement of the Kurdish Peshmerga while Kurds oppose the move and have vowed to dismantle the command and create a new one.
"The formation of a forward headquarters of Joint Operations Command in Kirkuk is for the purpose of unity in commands," Lt. Gen. Saad Harbiyah, head of the Kirkuk Joint Operations Command, told Rudaw.
The office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Kirkuk is reported to be taken over as headquarters of the new unit.
The new joint command includes the federal police, the Hashd al-Shaabi, counterterrorism forces and army units.
"All will be under one command for the purpose of understanding and uniting the security, intelligence and field ability for the sake of the Kirkuk province," added Lt. Gen. Harbiyah.
Ali Husseini, the Hashd al-Shaabi Northern Branch spokesperson told Rudaw that the Hashd is naturally part of Iraqi defense apparatus, and as such can operate in Kirkuk and be given a role in the joint operations command.
The Kurds have for their part called the move illegal and promised through Baghdad to reverse the plan and possibly form a new force.
"There are a number of legal and constitutional errors in establishing this operation room in Kirkuk,” Shakhawan Abdullah, member of Kirkuk Normalization Committee, told Rudaw. “For example, members of that force are aliens and not natives to the city.”
He added that the second problem is that the headquarters of the force in KDP's building, "which is occupied since October 16".
The latest announcement from the army contradicts a recent statement from the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdil Abdul-Mahdi read that a joint force of Iraqi army and Peshmerga would be created for Kirkuk.
Newly-established military committees would determine locations where the Peshmerga or Iraqi forces are to be deployed, read a statement from the prime minister’s office.
Reporting by Hardi Mohammed